Of course, before I gave it to the students, I tried it out first.
|San Diego has exploded, but Los Angeles is still about the same size|
If we rank the cities (I considered only cities larger than about 80 sq. kms and having an urban core of at least 30,000 residents per sq. km) by the percent growth in metropolitan area, the ranking is:
- San Jose, CA: the king of sprawl with its high-density urban region increasing from about 300 sq. km to about 500 sq. km between 1990 and 2010
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- San Diego, CA
- Washington, DC
Interestingly, considering all that we think Canada is about, Toronto is one of the cities that has sprawled the most. Next only to Mexico City.
But ... but, I can hear you asking. What about Phoenix? You can see city extents in 2010 according to my methodology by clicking on this link: US cities: high-density urban areas [Google Maps]. Cities like Phoenix have suburbs that are so sparse that they don't even meet my "urban" criteria of 30K residents per sq. km. Hence, they are not identified as having grown. I used internal measures of the data to identify what "urban" means. So, if you find an official definition of suburban population density, let me know and I can rerun my analysis with the lower threshold.
You can see a longer description of my methodology, and the approaches followed by different students here: sprawl methodology [PDF file] .